Hanging scroll
By Wu Wei
Ink and color on silk
Ming Dynasty
Length 177cm, width 97.6cm

Wu Wei (1459-1508), who styled himself Ciweng, with the alternative name Xiaoxian, was a native of Jiangxia (now Wuchang, Hubei Province). He was a court painter of Ming Dynasty, and the founder of “Jiangxia School”. He specialized in painting figures, landscapes, especially in outline drawing without color or shading. He started painting in court in Cheng Hua period (1465-1487). In Hong Zhi period (1488-1505), he gained the emperor’s royal seal, and was called “Master of Paining”. His personal style was mainly evolved from the Southern Song academic tradition, and his figure painings were divided into bold free style, meticulous style and traditional ink and brush style. His early style was delicate and exquisite , after his middle age, his style was characterized by greater freedom and more expressive brushwork. The representative of his works is Wind and Snow on the Ba River Bridge. In this painting, the figures’ faces, hands and feet were outlined with light ink and light colors, and the method of the composition was taken from the style of Southern Song Dynasty’s “side corner” method, but his own style was characterized by fresh brushwork instead of Southern Song’s calm and vigorous style. The upper left corner of the painting was signed “by Xiaoxian”, and a seal of “Jiangxia Wu Wei” carved in relief can be found below it.